When I think about things that are unfairly maligned, the 80s incarnation of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship, known simply as Starship, springs to the forefront of my mind. They are hated by classic rockers for being a bastardization of the group that recorded such enduring rock songs like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” Pop fans dismiss them simply because “We Built This City” was overplayed. Rolling Stone readers voted it “the worst song of the 80s” by a huge margin. I suspect that both of these factors played a role in it achieving that dubious honor.
While all that may be true, you can’t deny that songs like today’s selection – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from the film Mannequin – are catchy and fun to listen to, even as the close in on their 30th birthday. For reasons unknown to anyone, I recently rediscovered this song and have been listening to it quite a bit. Is it cheesy? Oh yes. Not surprisingly for me, that’s half its charm. What did people expect for a song from a romantic comedy in the 80s? I remember being a kid and being amazed that someone that Grace Slick, who was older than my mom, had a #1 hit on the Billboard charts. Fun fact: she held the record for being the oldest female with a number one hit in Billboard history (she was 47 at the time “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” ht #1), a record broken, naturally, by 53 year-old Cher when “Believe” topped the charts in 1999.
Here’s my take on Starship. They were doing nothing more than being the band that the 80s required – synthesizers and catchy pop hooks. Can you blame them for wanting hits? Can you really criticize the songs for being “too catchy?” I suppose there’s always the “they sold out!” refrain, but there are very few artists out there that would not like to eventually or continue to make money off their art. They changed with the times, as most artists do. The fact that the songs had the nerve to become popular shouldn’t be held against them. Their 80s albums are no Surrealistic Pillow, but that was then and, well, that was then.
As for Mannequin, I barely remember anything about that movie except that there was a Belinda Carlisle song over the opening credits and that Estelle Getty was in it. It may be time to revisit that movie. I bet Anna would dig it.